With an Audience in Hand, Meredith Launches a Newsstand Magazine
"Fixer Upper" stars Joanna and Chip Gaines release The Magnolia Journal today.
The magazine, which is “bookazine” style with thick paper, few advertisements, and a $7.99 cover price to match, is the most recent in the publisher’s efforts to repurpose an existing brand audience into a print magazine following.
It’s an unexpected reversal in an industry that’s shying away from print at every turn. But with active social followings, in addition to their television brand and Magnolia Market store, the Gaines’ came to Meredith with a built-in following.
“It was really a natural thing for them to want to launch that in a printed product,” Chris Guilfoyle, group publisher of Meredith’s women’s group, tells Folio:. “They have a tremendous social media following for both Magnolia Market, as well as each of their individual social media accounts, but I think what a magazine did for them is that it allowed them not only to have something that is permanent — a keep sake if you will — but it also expanded their voice and their footprint into that whole lifestyle arena that they feel that they have to share.”
The magazine is slated to remain quarterly through 2017, with the potential to reposition into a more regular, cheaper, and advertising-dense vertical. The first two issues have a newsstand distribution of 400,000 copies, and are editorial centric.
A repositioning may also mean full-time staff, though the magazine is presently produced out of the Better Home and Gardens Special Interest Media division in Des Moines, Iowa, where staff are split between 80 and 100 newsstand verticals, many of which cover lifestyle and décor.
“Where we want to grow it is based upon consumer demand,” Guilfoyle says. “That is why for the first and second issue, it is only newsstand distribution, because we really want to see what the consumer response is to the product.”
Despite Joanna and Chip having a combined 4.7 million followers on Instagram, and 572,000 followers on Twitter, Meredith has relatively little idea what that audience looks like. To this end, the first issue contains a reader study.
“We know that Chip and Joanna appeal to a cross section of consumers, so we have not gone out with specific demographics; We believe that they appeal very much to a Millennial-centric audience but we will be developing a prototype, which has not been determined, so that marketers have an understanding of what the audience is that they’re purchasing,” Guifoyle says.
Nonetheless, the first issue of the magazine features adveritisments from brands like Kohler, PepsiCo, and ConAgra as well as brands already associated with Magnolia, like Matilda Jane Clothing.
This unusual approach continues over into The Magnolia Journal digital strategy — that is, there is none.
Apart from the magazine, the Gaines’ have popular social accounts and maintain the MagnoliaMarket.com, a combination lifestyle blog and online store, which links to the couple’s other business endeavors like their book and realty company. With their existing digital saturation, there may not be room for The Magnolia Journal online.